Way Back When - Recollections of an Octogenarian

Slason Thompson

On our Sunday afternoon visit to Grampie, I detected a hint of sadness in his voice as he told Dad, “I feel young in heart but when I look in the mirror, I see an old man.”

His voice trembled as he continued, “I doubt I’ll ever again be able to walk through the woods to the Seely place.”

Probably Slason Thompson of Chicago felt the same way in 1929, when he reached the age of eighty and became an octogenarian. Yet, through the magic of memory, he could live again the old home life, and recall the incidents in his careers and personal life from decade to decade. For the benefit of his seven grandchildren, he penned his thoughts and memories which expanded into a 364-page book, “Way Back When” that was privately printed in Chicago in 1930.

His Thompson ancestors came to New Brunswick with the Loyalists in 1783. Shortly after, they located on Keswick Ridge in York County.  Their son Alexander Thompson was married in April of 1813 to Elizabeth Pickard of Keswick Ridge, the daughter of Humphrey Pickard, formerly from Rowley, Massachusetts. Alexander and Elizabeth moved across the St. John River to Kingsclear and there, George, the eldest of five sons was born.

The years passed and in 1843 George Thompson married Charity Sobieski Slason, the youngest of the eleven children from the first marriage of Jedediah Slason, who too, had been a loyalist. He was quite wealthy and was a member of the Provincial Assembly in the 1830's.

George and Charity Thompson had three daughters and a son Slason, who was born on January 5, 1849 in a two-story house on Queen Street, Fredericton. The following year, the family moved to an abandoned farm with ramshackle buildings about two miles above Andover near the mouth of the Aroostook River. On May 22, George Thompson made his first attempt at ploughing and on May 25, sowed one bushel of wheat. His wife and family arrived on the ‘Reindeer’ on May 26. The family returned to Fredericton in 1852. Slason Thompson spent many of his summers on his Uncle Alexander Thompson’s farm at Douglas, York County.

Several chapters of the book detail his everyday life of growing up in Fredericton in the 1850's and 1860's and the education he received. At age sixteen he was articled as a working student in the law office of George Botsford, at that time Clerk of the Legislative Council and president of a local bank. In 1870, he passed his examination according to the Rules of the Barristers’ Society and was entitled to a first class certificate. Three years later he made the decision to go to San Francisco. Later in his life, other decisions in careers were made such as, writing for the stage, joining in founding the Chicago Herald, working with the Morning News, becoming editor of the Chicago Journal, and getting involved as a Railway Publicist.

Although Slason Thompson lived away from his New Brunswick home for 56 years, the memories of the days of his youth and family stayed vivid in his mind. His publication, “Way Back When” also includes photos of scenes in Fredericton and of family members. The book can be viewed at several research institutions.

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Query 1151
Hachey - Duncan - Ogden - Barton:  Opal Mandrena Hachey was born in Campbellton, New Brunswick in1904. She first married Albert Hamilton Duncan in Campbellton in 1924 and her two following marriages were in Saint John to Ewen Leopold Ogden and Angus Barton. I am interested in finding her obituary, place of burial and descendants.

James Hachey
6783 Etienne Bouchard, Montreal
QC, Canada
H1M 3A7.
E-mail jhachey@videotron.ca.

Query 1152
Jennings - Mcgee: John Jennings was born in1850 and immigrated to New Brunswick in1852. He married Kate Mcgee in Saint John. According to the 1901 census, he had four sons; Charles 1877, Albert 1879, William 1883, Harold 1894 as well as three daughters;  Frances 1874, Emma 1885 and Laura 1886. Any info on John Jennings would be appreciated.
John Jennings
5 Sierra Ave., Rothesay
NB, Canada
E2E 2N2.
E-mail JOHNJENNINGS@rogers.com.

Query 1153
Glover - Brown - Proctor - Keith: Elizabeth Josephine Glover married George Brown who drowned in the Restigouche River in 1877. Their son, George A. Brown, was born 12 Sept. 1877. Her second marriage was in Sussex in 1878 to William John Procter and they lived in Cornhill. According to the 1901 census, she was living in the household of Chipman Keith. Her son, Robert Oldfield Procter married Ada Keith, the daughter of Chipman Keith and they moved to Milton, Massachusetts, accompanied by Elizabeth. I am seeking information on the place of birth, parents and siblings of Elizabeth and her first husband, George Brown.
Judy McQuinn
460 MacNaughton Ave.
Moncton, NB 
Canada, E1H 2K1.
E-mail judymc@nb.aibn.com.

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